Expressive Writing


 If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.
~Seamus Heaney


Expressive Writing

The power of writing offers inspiration and healing. It provides a means for expressing feelings and ideas. Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with expressive writing or jotting down what you think and how you feel. And, it also helps you communicate complex ideas more effectively.
Though different from traveling the globe, writing offers a passport into worlds unknown. In my current writing class I have six students. One is writing a scientifically based and spiritually healing novel, one is working on a self-help book, another is writing a novel or creative nonfiction based on his life, two are writing memoirs and another is emptying her brain filled with satirical humor that has us all in stitches. As each reads his or her piece, we are easily transported to places beyond the room we sit in. That is not necessarily the intention of the writer. It just can’t be helped. No two writers are alike. As each develops his or her manuscript, their unique style and voice emerge.

It sometimes takes a while, but your story, blog, etc. will have a life of its own as you settle into your subject or characters. As your piece develops, it lets you know what it needs to convey your intention. Or, it can take you in a direction that you didn’t even know was possible. Given time, you fashion a relationship with your creation and together come up with something that makes you smile and say “yes!” As is with any work of art, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

For most, the hardest thing about writing is getting started. If not knowing what to write is stopping you, here are a few prompts to get you started.

  1. Write an unfinished sentence and then run with it: When you opened the door I couldn’t help but wonder . . . I never have enough time to . . . I was so angry when . . . I love the idea of . . . Write the beginning to any sentence and then finish it with your imagination.
  2. Allow yourself to dream up a story based on fantasy or an experience, and then write it down.
  3. Write about a difficult life event adding a new ending or opinion about it.
  4. Write a letter of gratitude to someone with whom you have difficulty expressing verbally. (Makes a great holiday gift.)
  5. Write a story about a time (note deletion here) when something you heard or read changed your life.

Sometimes a good prompt can start out as an exercise and lead you to somewhere you’ve never been. Try it. You have the words.


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